Aston Villa has signed Morocco international midfielder Karim El Ahmadi on a three-year contract from Dutch league runner-up Feyenoord.

The 27-year-old El Ahmadi is new coach Paul Lambert's first signing for the Birmingham club.

El Ahmadi has agreed a deal at Villa Park until the end of the 2014-15 season and says he's ''looking forward to doing good things with the team and with the club this year.'' He says Aston Villa ''should be competing in the top half of the table.''

Aston Villa finished a disappointed 16th in the Premier League last season, leading to Alex McLeish being fired as manager by American owner Randy Lerner and replaced with Lambert.

Villa's players report for pre-season training on Thursday.